Crisis of Faith
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, ESV)
After the last supper (Passover meal) and on the heels of informing Peter about his impending denial of him three times, Jesus led his disciples to a placed called Gethsemane. It was not a garden in the way we think of them, with beautiful flowers, lush green grass, large trees providing shade, and a place of tranquility. This was a working garden featuring an olive grove and olive press.
I am filled with awe once again as my heart is pressed with gratitude for Jesus’ sacrificial act of obedience on our behalf.Gethsemane means “oil press.” The olives would be harvested into sacks and then put under an olive press located underground. This particular Gethsemane was on the Mount of Olives across from the Kidron Valley and overlooked Jerusalem. It provided an ideal place for Jesus to spend the night with his disciples, and it was a place he had likely been often on previous visits to Jerusalem.
This particular night was filled with agony. Jesus faced a crisis of faith that culminated in the collision of two wills: his human will and the will of God the Father. If it be possible… Jesus pleaded as sweat like blood dripped out of his pores. Jesus’ body was under a great amount of stress and trauma as he prayed to his Father in the garden. His body was pressed, blood vessels constricting in protest to his certain future: betrayal, scourging, beatings, humiliation, and death on a cross.
Jesus’ response: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. I feel the weight of his obedience in my body as I write these words. The weight presses me to recognize how real this was for him and how often I choose my own will, or what feels easier, instead of being obedient to the will of my Father, something that feels risky and unknown.
Jesus mentioned a cup: Let this cup pass from me. What does this mean?
The Old Testament Scriptures speak of the cup of blessing and fellowship (Psalms 23:5, 116:13) and also of the cup of divine wrath and judgment (Psalm 11:6, Isaiah 51:17). Jesus had God’s full favor and drank from the cup of God’s blessing (Matthew 17:5). Since Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden humankind was on track to drink the cup of God’s wrath, until… until… Jesus did the unexpected—he switched cups with us. In a garden of olive trees. In the middle of intense agony. As his own soul was being pressed. Jesus resolved to drink the cup of wrath and judgment. Not as I will, but as you will.
Jesus prayed three times. The first time, he cried out: If it be possible (verse 39). The second time: If this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done (verse 42). After his third prayer, he returned to his disciples with conviction and ready to face his fate: Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand (verse 45). Jesus moved through his crisis of faith one step at a time.
As I meditate on today’s passage, I am filled with awe once again as my heart is pressed with gratitude for Jesus’ sacrificial act of obedience on our behalf. I’m encouraged to face my next crisis of faith one prayer at a time. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you for drinking the cup of wrath and judgment and providing for us the cup of blessing and fellowship.
April 13, 2017
Copyright 2017 Links Players International